2020 Presidential Candidates

List of Potential Contenders to Run Against Donald Trump

Trump oath
President Donald Trump takes the oath of office as his wife Melania holds the bible. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Call it the endless campaign, but 2020 presidential candidates are already beginning to woo voters, tap donors and build coalitions in what has become a nonstop race for the White House in modern politics. Their work began within weeks of Donald Trump taking the oath of office as the nation's 45th president. 

The next president takes office on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021

Here's an early look at the Democrats, and even members of Trump's own Republican Party, who are looking to unseat the controversial commander-in-chief.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump financed part of his 2016 presidential campaign on his own. Scott Olson/Getty Images News

This one's pretty obvious. Or is it?

There are, of course, lots of one-term presidents — but only those who have been unceremoniously ejected from office after losing re-election. Few sitting presidents have decided to voluntarily quit the job after the first few years: James K. Polk, Calvin Coolidge and Lyndon B. Johnson

Trump might be the modern first president to call it quits after one term, his fellow Republicans speculated during his first year in the White House. 

"Four years is a long time, and especially for someone who has not spent a lifetime in politics, so I think those years affect him differently," said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination in the 2016 election. "So I'm sure the president will make whatever decision is best for him and his family and the country.”

"If he runs again I would support him, yes, but I'm not so sure what will happen," Christie said.

The controversies Trump has endured, particularly the independent investigation into whether his campaign colluded with the Russians to influence the election, appeared to take their toll, the president's allies suggested.

So will he or won't he run again? History and tradition suggest he will. But Trump's presidency has been anything but traditional. More »

Ohio Gov. John Kasich
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a former member of Congress, is a Republican who ran for president in 2016. Scott Olson/Getty Images News

Ohio Gov. John Kasich continues to be a thorn in Trump's side and is among the most prominent members of the president's own party to routinely criticize his behavior and his policies. 

There are plenty of other reasons to believe Kasich is planning to run in 2020. He's written and published a book, like many presidents have done before him. He's not allowed to run for another term as governor in 2018, so he'll be looking for another job. He never made peace with Trump and wrote in Sen. John McCain's name for president in 2016.

Also: his campaign committee is still alive and well. 

Even if Trump decides to run for a second term, it is entirely possible the president will face a challenge from within his own party, and Kasich has positioned himself as a sort of anti-Trump who appeals to mainstream members of the GOP and has lots of governing cred. More »

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is picture here speaking in 2015.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump chose Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to be his running mate in the 2016 election. Aaron P. Bernstein / Getty Images Stringer

Yes, you read the right. Trump's right-hand man, his running-mate in 2016, his loyal defender in the White House, Mike Pence. The sitting vice president was reportedly "cultivating some of the party’s most prominent donors, courting conservative interest groups" and carefully enhancing his profiles as part of a "shadow campaign for 2020," The New York Times reported in the summer of 2017.

Pence was said to be preparing a campaign in the event Trump declined to run again, or was not able to run again. More »

Republican Tom Cotton

Tom Cotton
Republican U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton is said to be weighing a run for president in 2020. Alex Wong/Getty Images News

Tom Cotton is a U.S. senator from Arkansas who made headlines early in 2017 when he traveled to Iowa, home to the famed Iowa Caucuses, to attend a fundraiser for a local Republican committee. In a speech to more than 100 Republicans gathered there, Cotton said: “I’m ready for that new beginning." Many political observers believe Cotton was implying he was planning to campaign for president in 2020, but he denied it to reporters, saying he was merely looking forward to his Senate re-election campaign that year.

Republican Ben Sasse

Ben Sasse
Republican U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse is said to be considering a run for president in 2020. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Ben Sasse is a U.S. senator from Nebraska and one of the strongest Republican critics of Trump. Sasse, once described as an "arrogant academic," has been asked repeatedly whether he is planning a direct challenge to Trump, and he has not explicitly denied it. Sasse, too, has written a book, The Vanishing American Adult.

Bernie Sanders
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Getty Images

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has a strong following, particularly among younger, more liberal members of the Democratic Party. He gave Hillary Clinton a run for her money during the intraparty battle for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination by drawing large crowds with his passionate speeches about income inequality in the corrupting influence of money in the American political system. More »

Democrat Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren
Democratic U.S. Sen Elizabeth Warren is considered to be a strong choice for the presidential nomination in 2020. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Elizabeth Warren is a U.S. senator from Massachusetts who was rumored to have been on Hillary Clinton's short list of potential running mates in the 2016 election. She has earned a reputation as a consumer advocate and advocate for the middle class because of her expertise in bankruptcy and the economic pressures facing many Americans. She, like Sanders, has taken a tough stance against Wall Street.

Democrat Joe Biden

Vice President Joe Biden
Vice President Joe Biden is sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in January 2013. Mark Wilson/Getty Images News

Joe Biden, a former U.S. senator who served two terms as vice president under Barack Obama, removed himself from speculation in the 2016 campaign following the death of his son Beau. But he re-emerged during Trump's first term in office after launching a political action committee, American Possibilities, “dedicated to electing people who believe that this country is about dreaming big, and supporting groups and causes that embody that spirit." Will one of those people be himself? 

Said Biden: "I haven't decided to run, but I've decided I'm not going to decide not run. We'll see what happens."

Cory Booker
Democratic U.S. Sen. Cory Booker is said to be on the short list of potential challengers to Donald Trump in 2020. Drew Angered/Getty Images

Cory Booker, a U.S. senator from New Jersey, is a former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, who many believe began laying the groundwork for a 2020 candidacy when he testidied against a colleague in the U.S. Senate, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who was nominated for attorney general by Trump in 2017. Booker's speech in opposition to his colleague was likened to former President Barack Obama's soaring rhetoric.

Said Booker:

“If confirmed, Senator Sessions will be required to pursue justice for women, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend the equal rights of gay and lesbian and transgender Americans, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend voting rights, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend the rights of immigrants and affirm their human dignity, but the record indicates that he won’t.”

More »
Julian Castro picture
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro gives the keynote address on day one of the Democratic National Convention in August 2012. Joe Raedle/Getty Images News

Julián Castro is a Hispanic politician and rising star in the Democratic Party. He served as the mayor of San Antonio, Texas, and later earned a position in President Barack Obama's cabinet. Castro has been described as the "Latino Obama" and is often described as having the potential to become the first Latino president. Castro has launched a  political action committee, “Opportunity First,” fueling speculation that he is weighing a run in 2020.  More »

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Murse, Tom. "2020 Presidential Candidates." ThoughtCo, Nov. 13, 2017, thoughtco.com/2020-presidential-candidates-list-and-bios-4154063. Murse, Tom. (2017, November 13). 2020 Presidential Candidates. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/2020-presidential-candidates-list-and-bios-4154063 Murse, Tom. "2020 Presidential Candidates." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/2020-presidential-candidates-list-and-bios-4154063 (accessed November 23, 2017).